Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stale Cake - With Frosting!

Funny comments by Microsoft product manager Lawrence Liu on Mike Gotta's blog. Removing some noise between the lines:

"I am asking customers to step back and assess what business problem(s) they’re trying to solve... Jive and IBM are trying to wedge ... themselves into the SharePoint 'pie' by focusing on feature-to-feature comparisons while we’re working hard with our partners to provide the right frosting (or Cool Whip) to solve our customers’ problems."

I'm confused by Lawrence's response here for a couple of reasons:

  • Bad metaphor is always difficult to read - Who puts frosting on pie? Who takes a "wedge" of pie? Good pie is best served hot by a knowledgeable baker, not after the original baker has stepped away from the pie and waited for six months to see what other pie makers are selling, then asking some other pie maker to fix the six-month-old, stale pie.
  • Certainly nobody is asking customers to *not* solve a business problem. That would be equally as insulting - Microsoft does not have a monopoly on fixing business problems. If anything, they have a monopoly for causing business problems (early EOLs for XP, patch practices requiring substantial outages and reboots, Vista protocol design that causes networking headaches all translate into BCP issues in my mind).
  • More comical, Lawrence is trying to convince customers that alternatives to *their* products are rash and that buyers are *safer* sticking with the platform and ignoring what other vendors are doing in the space. In my mind, this is akin to "only following orders", but why take orders from the used car salesman at the end of the block? Sure, eventually Microsoft will figure out what is important for their most profitable customers, or alternatively customers can buy a number of flexible solutions today that meet their needs.

My translation: "We're Microsoft. You will do what we say is important, when we say it is important. Thank you, your next invoice is in the mail."

The term "Microserf" comes to mind...

1 comment:

Lawrence Liu said...

For more info on the SharePoint "pie", see So, "frosting" would be the "value add" on top of that pie, and that's exactly what our rapidly growing number of partners provide.

I'm not at all against customers buying or implementing specific solutions that solve specific business problems. The key point that I was trying to make is that customers should lean towards solutions that integrate well (i.e. deeply and seamlessly) with the system or platform that enables the bulk of an organizations business productivity.

Lawrence Liu